04.11.11 DC: The Wrong Fight (GOP Kills Abortion Funding in DC)
“Taxation without Representation,” read DC’s license plates. Sure, it would be nice for the District to have a voting representative in Congress. But, apart from the symbolism, who really thinks that Eleanor Holmes Norton’s (D-Delegate-DC) ability to vote on the floor of the House would make any real difference to DC citizens?
The far bigger issue is that Congress rules DC as a colonial power. The latest chilling example comes from the brilliant last-minute “compromise” that averted a government shut-down by giving the GOP/Tea Party nearly everything they wanted. Sure, Obama seemed to draw a line in the sand when it came to women’s health, but threw local poor women under the bus: little mentioned and noticed is the provision in the budget bill that will now prevent DC from spending its own tax dollars on abortion coverage for women.
Yes, indeed. Even though the tax dollars in question come from DC residents, that money goes right back to Congress to be appropriated just as the right wing sees fit. This happens in no other jurisdiction in the country. Only here* can the gun lobby, the anti-drug crazies, and the religious fundamentalists from hundreds and thousands of miles away tell locals what they may and may not do with their own money. This latest insult comes on the heels of myriad similar actions over the years to prevent counting ballots on a medical marijuana bill, prevent life-saving needle exchanges, gut local gun laws, etc. Oh yes, there is also a requirement in the GOP budget bill that requires the District to fund a school-voucher program. (Like this crap has anything to do with cutting the federal budget deficit!)
And don’t for a moment think that the Democrats are good guys here. Dems are supporters of the NRA, which the past two years killed a measure to give Norton that precious floor vote by attaching to it the elimination of all local control of gun laws. And, in other circumstances (like this latest), Dems care so little about democracy, that they’re happy to ignore or trade away their brethren’s fundamental rights.
So, I think the fight for a single congressional vote misses the mark. DC residents need to fight – and fight hard – for the basic right of self-determination. How about a major strike? Why couldn’t better-paid DC residents who work for the federal government (especially Congress) boycott their employers? (Let’s exempt those who can’t afford to take a day off.) Start with a single organized day. If Congress doesn’t take notice, add another one. Then make it once a month. Then shut the whole place down for a solid week. At the same time, organize picketing at major tourist attractions to get the word out nationwide.
*I am writing this from Maryland, about a mile from the DC border. But DC is “here” to me. I spent years there and feel a substantial solidarity with my fellow Americans within walking distance. I’m sure lots of other Marylanders and Virginians agree. I hereby pledge to join the boycott, if and when it can be organized, and would urge my suburban neighbors to join me.
©2011 Keith Berner